Re: Triggers / Actions (combatting twinks and script kiddies)

From: Patrick Dughi (
Date: 10/19/00

> >...that time was long ago, and with it died the respect and honor code of the
> >old realms.  We move forever forward into a "point & click" generation
> >who doesn't wish to learn the realm, or how things work, but rather the
> >quickest way from point a to point b to kill that huge mob to get the
> >most experience and gains levels.  The same players who idle in a couple
> >of zones and then complain that there is nothing to do when they have
> >reached the maximum level.

        One point:  The majority of code is written with the fundamentals
of (A)D&D firmly in hand.  This worked great for D&D where, frankly, you
could play 2 days a week for 3 years solid and still have only a handful
of players at/around level 10.

        Granted, I've seen my fair share of Monty Haul campaigns, where
the dice you roll are not for damage in hit points, but in # of squads of
enemies you destroy, and levels are usually at 1,000,000 + 1d6million.

        The thing is, that AD&D didn't care.  The DM was always
responsible for imagining a new and greater threat.  Very rarely did that
ever deal with the numbers and stats - the DM would just take player stats
and multiply by some factor for the appropraite challenge.

        Mud's aren't like that.  They're a persistant world that has to be
shared by both the 3 year old players at level 10, and Bob, the level 3
trillion world-destroyer.  Maybe your range of levels is a bit smaller,
but based on the non-linearity of power vs. level I see on most muds, this
is nearly accurate.  You don't have a DM to say "well, the little creature
here is going to attack the weak character, and the boss will concentrate
on the high level char".   You don't have the flexibility to set it up
just right for each person....more below..

> >   Something I was thinking about doing along with mob experience limits
> >based on how often a specific character killed a mob, was also to check
> >how often a specific mob was targeted by everyone in the realm.  If
> >everyone always goes to kill "the ancient trees" then each time someone
> >does, the mob saves info from each time they were killed, and every
> >handful of ticks, or zone resets, it lowers the number.  So the
> >experience rate would always be fluctuating.
> Quoting (from memory) a 'tips on DMing' document from somewhere
>         "...if your players think those orcs are a bunch of scrags and get
> sloppy, make them 5 HD creatures (or your game's eqiuivalent.) There is no
> better wake-up call for a player then to be almost killed because you were
> dozing off."

        Again, this is great for D&D, but it's impossible to implement in
a mud.  How do you target the overpowered characters? - any mud I've been
on, all the characters who are not multis/newbies are in the top 5% of the
possible level achievements.  Put another away, 98% of the people are in
the top tenth percentile. People actually cry if they can't be.  Everyone
feels they have a right to get there, and by and large, Mud Admins pander
to this concept.

        Point two; there's no way to almost kill someone in a mud.  You
either kill them, or you don't.  It's highly improbable to impart the
sense of narrowly escaped doom to players.  Especially when combat lasts
at most a minute, people don't have time to get anything other than a
high-level, relative sense of minor changes in power.  Mud combat comes
down to either win, and i'm back to full strength in under 3 minutes, or
lose, and i'm back to full strength (if I get my eq) in under 5.

        Point three;  This is to stop people from hounding a specific mob?
What are they going to do now?  They're either going to figure out a way
to deal with the new changes, or if the mob isn't worth it, they'll just
never try to kill it again.  There's a good reason people hunt out the
cash-cow mobs on a mud.  Basic behavior reward pattern.  If it's not a
reward, they stop.  You're going to have to/want to balance the entire set
of mobs so that no one mob is so far out of sync with the others as to
make it a 'better' kill.  This is what you should have been striving for

> Applying this to a MUD environment, how about making a small crop of
> 'exceptional' mobs, either automatically in the code, or through making a
> small crop of monsters with stats above normal in the worldfiles? The
> obvious problem is that 'honest players' who just blunder into these mobs
> stand just as great a chance of being killed. Any ideas for refinement of this
> method?
        I think the word honest doesn't mean what you think it does.  If
you setup a mud, and make 2 creatures, one that will kill me each time I
fight it, and the other that gives me a level each time I fight it (and I
never die), I'll always fight the second.  That's as honest as it gets.

        Aside from that, people usually do create what are refered to as
Boss mobs, usually at the end/longest search depth/etc of a zone.  If
they're too far out of whack, they're never killed, except for their eq,
and then, rarely.

        What you have not yet touched upon is the conception of an RPG
holy grail - a game that people never get bored with, never max out, and
never want to leave.  Just a guess, but you'd probably have to gank
levels, and any other number rating which has a defined upper limit used
for advancment.  You'd run into problems if you used infinite potential
advancement, so stay away from that.

        My advice to you is that you make everyone equal but not very
useful. That is, no one player should be able to do everything, or even
more than say, 5% of the possible things in a game.  Then, make it so they
can get the remaining 95% of things through cooperation with others.

        Too bad most muds don't offer anything other than different text
messages to see when you kill a mob/player for counting accomplishments.
There's got to be something other to achieve.

> Twinks == bad.

        Not to deliberately offend, but this is a narrow mindset, and you
as a creator/admin/coder/owner cannot afford to maintain it.  What you
refer to as twinks is nothing more than some way which minimizes player
benefit from a given situation; exp from combat, more likely to die, need
to 'eat' more, rent is up, gold is down, etc.  This is done for the cry of
'balance', more often than not.

        Balance then can be defined as the comprimise between the Game
Owner/Admin/Implementator's vision of what should be, and how close the
system adheres to this.  Players are the acid test strips which let
us gauge the balance, and to some extent, their opinions cause us to
re-validate or change our original vision.  Of course, players are
self-motivated; they want to be level 1 trillion, ASAP.  Mud owners
though, want their players around as long as possible, and not to be bored
by being maxed, or by leveling too slow.

        Perfect balance is the unattainable, ever desired goal.

                        Balance is very very good.

        I won't even get into the fact that players are self-defeating by
wanting to max faster and faster, despite that means they'll maintain less
of an accomplishment reward ("I beat _x_mud!", "so, everyone does that in
under 20 minutes."), and that they'll most likely get bored more quickly,
and leave.

        Bottom line, balancing out things involves depreciating the
benefits of a specific skill/spell/eq/mob/etc, or increasing them, as
necessary for all skills/spells/eq/mob/etc to be within a given
admin-determined range.

        Players are going to bitch unless it helps them.  Then they'll
bitch because they're bored.  It's your job as an admin to take the flak
for the tough calls, because if you don't your players suffer down the

        Didn't your parents ever give you a curfew/bedtime?

        Now you're the parent.  You can't afford to act like a kid.


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